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Whitechapel science centre nominated for top London award

Centre of the Cell – the Whitechapel based science education centre which is the first in the world to be located within biomedical research laboratories – has been short-listed for a BT Visit London Award 2010. The nomination in the category ‘Best New Tourism Experience for 2010’ comes in the month that the Centre marks its first anniversary.

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Centre of the Cell exterior
Centre of the Cell exterior

Over 12,500 young people have visited Centre of the Cell – located inside the futuristic Blizard building, part of Barts and The London Medical School - in the 12 months since it launched, with 43 per cent of school visits coming from within Tower Hamlets. So successful has the project been that plans are afoot to develop a second Centre of the 'Pod,' in response to demand for additional activities. The new neuron 'Pod' would be created in the mews space which runs between the two halves of the Blizard building enabling Centre of the Cell to expand its educational programme and outreach.

Now in their seventh year, the Visit London Awards celebrate the richness and diversity of the capital, and give recognition to the people, places and experiences that make it such an outstanding destination.  Centre of the Cell has quickly established itself as being among those attractions. At the core of the experience is a giant orange pod dramatically suspended above research laboratories. Using a series of exciting interactive games, virtual experiments and films it offers visitors a unique and fascinating insight into what scientists actually do and how their work influences real life. Visitors grow virtual cells to enable experiments in biomedical research; learn about stem cells for research into burns treatments; explore real body parts and examine cancerous tissues using microscopes. Additional activities are available during school holidays and entry is free.

One young visitor to Centre of the Cell enthused: “It's not every day you walk into a suspended cell and play all kinds of games. It was amazing seeing scientists working, so different from anything I have seen before. A computer scanned my hand and found I had 36,000,000,000 cells! It's not all sitting down putting your head down, you can actually have fun when you¹re a scientist.”

The winners of the Visit London Awards will be announced at a glittering ceremony on Wednesday 8 December at one of London’s newest spaces, The Bloomsbury Big Top. Centre of the Cell is becoming used to accolades – it recently picked up the Best Educational Initiative prize at the year’s Museum and Heritage Awards.

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